MANILA – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and TNT KaTropa will test each other’s mettle as the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup opens today at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Kings and KaTropa game is slated at 6:30 in the evening following the opening ceremony at four in the afternoon and the 2017-2018 PBA season Leo Awards at 4:30 p.m.
Kings will not much change in its lineup from last year except for the entry of rookie guard Bernabe Teodoro, who took over the spot vacated by the early retirement of guard Jett Manuel.
Leading the Kings are Gregory Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Negrense Joe Devance, Earl Scottie Thompson, LA Tenorio, Aljon Mariano, Kevin Ferrer, Solomon Mercado, Prince Caperal, Mark Caguioa, and Raymond Aguilar.
Kings, however, will be depleted heading into the opening day match with injuries to Negrense Jeffrei Chan, Arthur dela Cruz and Julian Sargent but will welcome the return of Jervy Cruz.
“There’s something to be said about being intact, there’s something to be said about continuity. For us it is paramount that we stay intact, keep our group together,” said Kings head coach Tim Cone.
He added: “We’re very comfortable with our chemistry, comfortable with our system, everybody really understands what’s going on and feel we can play in a deeper level, so I think we’ll grow and we’ll be better.”
KaTropa will also have almost the exact roster save for the exit of Terrence Romeo, who was traded to the San Miguel Beermen in exchange for Brian Heruela and David Semerad.
Still with KaTropa were Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams, Ryan Garcia, Jericho Cruz, Celedonio Trollano, Anthony Semerad, Michael Miranda, Harvey Carey, and Frank Golla.
Jeth Troy Rosario will not be available for the KaTropa for the next four to six weeks due to a deformed nose injury, while Yousef Taha will be out for two weeks due to a cut in his forehead.
“As much as possible we want to involve everybody,” said KaTropa head coach Bong Ravena. “Everyone must do their part and not leave bulk of the work to one or two players. We want to instill that when they are on court they have to do their job both offensively and defensively.”/PN